3 Ways To Prevent Injuries When Exercising At Home

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: May 6, 2020

If you’re like most of America, you probably don’t have access to a live personal trainer or a fully equipped home gym. Fortunately, you can still improve your strength and cardiovascular health with no equipment by adapting your normal routines to work from home. When trying new routines or working especially hard to stay in shape during quarantine, it’s more important than ever to be aware of how to prevent exercise-related injury. What was once a quick trip to the doctor or hospital for a sports-related injury may now become a possible exposure to the spread of COVID-19. We’re sharing three important ways to help prevent injury while staying strong at home.
  1. Safety starts before you break a sweat.
    • Choose an exercise program that works for you. Current realities may mean your go-to exercise routine is not an option. Luckily, there are plenty of effective routines that you can perform at home, such as this 9 exercise no-equipment workout. With any physical activity, consult with your doctor on any limitations or modifications advised for your health.
    • Warm up with dynamic stretching. Research shows that static stretching (holding a position for a period of time) before exercise can weaken performance and is not proven to help prevent injury. This is because holding the stretch can tire out your muscles. Instead, warm up with dynamic stretches which are similar to your workout but lower intensity. This could include a brisk walk, walking lunges, butt kicks (walking forward while kicking towards your butt), or arm circles (holding arms out at shoulder level and moving your arms in small circles).
    • Learn proper technique for exercises. This is critical to ensure you activate the correct muscles during movements and avoid injury. While you may work out at home, many licensed trainers and physical therapists are available to help you, whether through video call or office visit, learn the proper form and structure a workout with your body in mind. There are also YouTube videos and online articles that demonstrate the proper form for almost any exercise you come across.
  2. During your workout, listen to your body.
    • Start gradually. Your objective is improving your body through exercising consistently, not winning a competition tomorrow. If your program calls for a certain intensity, start with a moderate level to assess your comfort. This could mean starting out with a 5 minute bike ride or walking at a relaxed pace. Over time, your exercise duration and intensity can increase as you get comfortable with the movements and your heart, lungs, and muscles strengthen. The biggest risk of injury is when you’re starting a new program or adding a new exercise. Your body’s unfamiliarity means extra caution is necessary. Stay hydrated and take breaks from your exercise routine based on how your body feels.
    • Know when to stop. Pain is never good when it comes to exercise. If a certain movement hurts when you perform it, stop right away. Continuing through pain can lead to longer-term injuries and prolong healing time. If the pain is abnormal or not improving, seek medical attention. Get help immediately if you suddenly experience dizziness, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
    • Vary your workouts. Besides preventing boredom, alternating your exercise routine aids muscle recovery by allowing adequate rest for fatigued body parts. This recovery period is what allows you to return to the workout stronger the next time. A varied workout plan also allows you to build a well-rounded body and is an important part of breaking out of a plateau. For example, yoga and jogging can both work out your lower body, but target muscle groups with different intensity.
  3. Recovery is critical.
    • Stretch after each workout. If your heart rate is elevated, take a slow walk to cool down your body. After your heart rate settles, now is a great time to incorporate static stretches. These stretches help elongate muscles and maintain, or even improve, flexibility.
    • Take enough time to recover between workouts. Generic workout programs are written as a one-size-fits-all template. In reality, there are many factors that influence recovery including the type of workout, diet, sleep, and overall health. Because your body is unique, the recovery time required may differ from what is laid out. Adapt the frequency and intensity of your workouts based on how your body feels and, as needed, consult with a licensed health professional.
    • Ensure your diet supports your recovery. Your body needs fuel to recover from the workout exertion. This article provides some time-tested nutrition tips that you can start incorporating today. For nutrition guidance tailored to your specific needs, schedule your free appointment (through video chat) with a licensed Kroger dietitian.

Exercise is a gift you provide your body that benefits everything from strengthening bones, lowering risk of certain diseases, and even delaying cognitive decline. By practicing the steps above, you can help prevent injuries while exercising during quarantine and beyond.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.